As soon as the news dropped this morning that there will soon be a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, short lists of potential candidates started appearing — including California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.
Experts say Kruger, appointed to California's top court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, is a top contender for President Joe Biden’s nomination to replace Justice Stephen Breyer. Breyer plans to retire later this year after serving nearly three decades on the nation’s highest court.
McGeorge School of Law Professor and former Supreme Court Law Clerk Leslie Jacobs spoke with CapRadio’s Randol White about the possibilities for the upcoming nomination.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
On why Kruger may be at the top of the list
Well, the first thing is that on the campaign trail, Biden said that he would fill a Supreme Court nominee with a Black woman. She's now a California Supreme Court Justice. She has all sorts of backgrounds, going to [an] excellent law school [Yale Law School]. She was a Supreme Court law clerk herself, and she served in the Obama administration in the Solicitor General's Office. So those are the types of credentials that you would be looking for in a Supreme Court nominee.
On similarities between Kruger and Breyer
Justice Breyer, of course, was a Democratic nominee, but at the same time established a reputation as a pragmatist, meaning he's practical in his reasoning. And he was often near the center of the decisions, and you can see the same thing going on, although we don't have as many years, obviously with Justice Krueger, but she is incremental in her decision making. You certainly see her siding in what you call a liberal way more often, but not exclusively.
On the other frontrunner, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson
She is now on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She was just elevated during the Biden administration from a District Court position. And so when people see that happening, first of all, the D.C. circuit is a place where presidents tend to put people that they're thinking of elevating to the Supreme Court. So that was a clue when it happened, but also what Jackson has going for her, besides, of course, being very well-qualified in similar sorts of ways, is that she has been through a Senate confirmation. And so things that would have come out in that process, they didn't.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the year Kruger was appointed to the California Supreme Court. It has been corrected.
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